Hometown Rivers Caught on Film


Who Owns Water film

In the stunningly-shot, award-winning documentary film Who Owns Water, brothers Michael and David Hanson return to the source of their childhood river and paddle it to the Gulf of Mexico to take you deep into the Water Wars.

Recently I finally had a chance to see a new movie I’d been looking forward to catching. Called Who Owns Water, it’s a documentary about the water supply conflict here in the Southeast over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. Spoiler alert: Yours truly has a bit part! But trust me, there are plenty of other good reasons to see this film.

At the heart of the story is a twin river trip in parallel by two of the filmmakers, brothers David and Michael Hanson, down the full length of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers here in Georgia. The brothers met up where the two rivers meet up to form the Apalachicola River, and then paddled the ‘Apalach’ on down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Along the way, they talked to other paddlers, conservationists, fishermen, local residents and all sorts of other folks about their perspectives on these vital rivers and the ongoing conflict among interests in Georgia, Alabama and Florida over their waters.

Like me, the Hanson boys grew up in Atlanta with little connection, as kids, to the rest of the river basin in which we reside. But to their credit, in the film they do a great job of bringing out the perspectives of other basin denizens from fly fishers in the North Georgia mountains to oystermen in Apalachicola Bay. David even sought out the help of an “urban river rat” like me to visit the urban source of the Flint River near Atlanta’s airport.

Both watching the film and traveling with David to his put-in on the upper Flint, what struck a chord with me was remembering the trip I did with friends down the length of the Flint almost exactly a decade earlier. Helping David set off was a good reminder that if you want to get to know a river, living on it for a month is a very good way to do so.

Thanks go out to Patagonia’s Atlanta store for hosting last month’s screening. I recommend checking out the film’s website.